The symbol for voiced uvular fricative in IPA is ʁ (an inverted small uppercase letter "R"), but I have noticed that this symbol is not displayed consistently depending on where it is pasted (at least on my computer).

Here are some examples (copy-pasting the symbol from above):

  • Google Search:

enter image description here

  • Google Docs:

enter image description here

Because of this, I am not sure if my computer is showing all the IPA symbols correctly. Has anyone had this problem before? Or could it be that the "direction" of this symbol is actually irrelevant and both mean the same?

  • 2
    Hi @jk-ReinstateMonica I'm sorry, I thought so, too, but guess my question really is: Does IPA prescribe what this symbol should look like?
    – Ella D.
    Sep 1 '21 at 9:44
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    It is actually showing up differently even on this website: imgur.com/EqsB68j
    – Ella D.
    Sep 1 '21 at 9:50
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    The "facing right" version is that prescribed by the IPA (so reflection of R rather than rotation). See for example internationalphoneticassociation.org/IPAcharts/IPA_chart_orig/…
    – Henry
    Sep 1 '21 at 10:01
  • 2
    @jk-ReinstateMonica: it should be a reflection not a rotation
    – Henry
    Sep 1 '21 at 10:04
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    I think this question should remain open (and will vote to reopen if it's closed) because "what does the IPA prescribe about the orientation of this symbol?" is interesting, linguistics-related (we've had IPA question before), and not something I'd considered.
    – Draconis
    Sep 2 '21 at 16:17

This appears to be a bug in Apple's system font San Francisco.

The International Phonetic Association designates the symbol for a voiced uvular fricative to be "Inverted small capital R", ʁ, which is defined in Unicode as LATIN LETTER SMALL CAPITAL INVERTED R at U+0281, and since "inverted" means "flipped along the horizontal axis", it should appear as a vertically flipped version of ʀ (U+0280) and the rendering in your first screenshot should be considered a bug. Unicode does have a code point for LATIN LETTER SMALL CAPITAL TURNED R at U+1D1A, , as well as LATIN LETTER SMALL CAPITAL REVERSED R at U+1D19, , and all these four should appear distinctly: ʀ ʁ ᴚ ᴙ.

IPA symbols have been known to show up inaccurately in some systems. For example, Helvetica pre-installed on macOS shows ɶ, the symbol for an open front rounded vowel, the same as œ, which represents an open-mid front rounded vowel in the IPA, and Noto Sans used in Android used to show χ, the symbol for a voiceless uvular fricative, the same as x, which represents a voiceless velar fricative.


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